Mercedes Benz Gullwing Gallery – Premium
Images & Story Jayson Fong of Form & Function
Post war Mercedes Benz, a company that lay in disarray after WWII changed the world forever. The domination of the Silver Arrows in the pre-war era couldn’t seem more distant.However, in 1952, Mercedes Benz would make a stunning return to sportscar racing with one of the most iconic cars to have ever been made – the 300SL ‘Gullwing’.
Ask almost any car enthusiast to think of some iconic cars from the automotive world and the Mercedes Benz 300SL will no doubt be among one of the top selections. Although very much recognized in modern times for its stunning and timeless design, many also forget the motorsport blood of the car that now comes with such a tremendous price tag.
Coded the W194, the 300SL was initially built purely as a racing sports car. However by 1954, road cars bearing the 300SL badge would become part of the legend with 1400 cars being built for both purposes until 1957.
The link to its motorsport upbringing is evident in its name, the letters S-L representing the words “sport licht” or Light and Sporty. Using a lightweight spaceframe chassis, Mercedes Benz would enter the 1952 Le Mans 24Hr looking for an advantage in their competitive sports car to bring the Silver Arrows back into the light. Part of the lightweight solution was the implementation of the iconic ‘gullwing doors’ which minimized deformation to the spaceframe and allow it to retain its strength.
Furthermore, powered by a 3.0 Inline-6 Cylinder, the 300SL was an example of a winning formula that combined aerodynamics, lightweight and power to create a package that was both a useable and durable machine for racing duty.
The 300SL quickly made itself a legend before production ceased and today has continued to inspire Mercedes Benz to produce formidable road and race cars. The 300SL – A car that could handle all the action on the track and remain an extremely desirable road machine off of it, it was truly the culmination of form and function.